JEFF KAROUB, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Jim Leyland may no longer be manager of the Detroit Tigers, but he picked up another high-profile position in the city.
Leyland, who stepped down as Tigers manager after this season, served as the grand marshal Thursday for the city’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Leyland smiled and waved in a convertible along the route, which was blanketed with a thin coating of snow.
He said it was an honor to be part of the parade, though he wished it was his second post-season ride down Woodward Avenue.
“I certainly would have liked it to be a World Series parade, but it didn’t work out that way,” he told WDIV-TV, adding “I’m glad I came to Motown — I can tell you that.”
The Tigers fell short of major league baseball’s grand prize, but the team under Leyland won three straight AL Central titles and went to the World Series twice in his eight years as manager.
Known as “America’s Thanksgiving Parade,” it boasts of being one of the nation’s oldest and most celebrated parades and second in size only to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. The spectacle included about two dozen floats, including one featuring a giant Henry Ford in front of a birthday cake marking the 150th anniversary of his birth. The Ford Motor Co. float also included a giant globe and a Ford Focus in recognition of the company’s global reach.
Thousands of spectators and runners who participated in pre-parade races were greeted with snow showers, slick roads and temperatures in the 20s. It was a far cry from last Thanksgiving, when the temperature in Detroit hit 52 degrees at 11 a.m., with a warm wind blowing from the south.
The blanket of snow lent some holiday festivity to the parade, but snarled traffic to and from the event as well as the Detroit Lions’ annual holiday home football game. The Lions were playing the Green Bay Packers on Thursday afternoon at downtown’s Ford Field.
Meteorologist Steve Considine of the National Weather Service office in Oakland County’s White Lake Township said only about an inch of snow was forecast for the area but that the frigid temperatures ensured it stuck around.
“The last two years have been fairly mild, and Thanksgiving was a little later in the month this year,” he said. “We’ve had Thanksgivings in the 60s and others in the 20s with snow. It’s just one of those times of year.”
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